2021 | Politics

Commission selects its final map proposing new County Council districts

Map, report now head to council for hearing, vote

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This is the new County Council map that the Montgomery County Council will consider, make potential changes to, and vote on. This is a screenshot from the meeting Wednesday; a better version was not yet available.

Montgomery County Government Screenshot via Facebook

A volunteer commission has chosen its preferred map for new County Council districts, which now heads to the council for final consideration and a vote.

The commission selected a map presented by one of its members — David Stein, a math teacher at Montgomery Blair High School in Silver Spring.

The commission voted 6-5 on its final choice. Stein and commissioners Laura Ard, Mariana Cordier, Keshia Desir, Arthur Edmunds and Valerie Ervin voted yes.

Commissioners Imad Aldean Ahmad, Bruce Goldensohn, Jason Makstein, Nilmini Rubin and Sam Statland voted no.

Those who opposed the map said they didn’t think it represented the northern parts of the county well enough. Those who supported it said the districts accurately reflect the growth of minority populations since the 2010 census.

A week earlier, the commission picked its three finalists for a new map.

Even though it was a split vote for the final choice, commissioners said afterward they appreciated the work of their colleagues and felt the map would be a good one for the public and County Council to consider.

“No one of these maps is a disaster,” Goldensohn said half-jokingly. 

“When I vote for one, it doesn’t mean the other two are invalid,” Ard added.

The commission was tasked with drawing new County Council districts after county voters approved a ballot measure in November 2020, increasing the number of council members from nine to 11.

The change means there will be seven districts instead of five, after next year’s elections. There will still be four at-large council members who represent the entire county.

The new map also considers a change in population throughout the county because of the U.S. census done every 10 years.

Stein’s map was not immediately available on the county’s redistricting website. All three proposed maps have Rockville and Gaithersburg within the same district.

The other six districts, roughly, are:

  • One that covers the southwestern part of the county, including Bethesda, Chevy Chase, Potomac and part of Travilah
  • One that covers the northwestern part of the county, including North Potomac, Germantown and Clarksburg
  • One that covers the east county, starting around the Four Corners neighborhood of Silver Spring and goes to Burtonsville to the northeast and Colesville to the northwest, and includes White Oak
  • One that covers Takoma Park, most of Silver Spring and goes northwest into North Bethesda
  • One that covers Forest Glen, Wheaton, Glenmont, Aspen Hill and Derwood
  • One that covers the northeastern part of the county, spanning from Damascus down to Montgomery Village and Olney to the southeast

Now, the commissioners must finalize an accompanying report to submit to the County Council. They plan to finalize that, with Stein’s map, at their Nov. 3 meeting.

Jeff Zyontz, a staffer to the commission, said he would try to get a draft of that report to commissioners within a week. 

Goldensohn said the commission’s map is only a recommendation. The County Council will hold a public hearing and could make changes to it before holding a final vote. 

“Please, put [your opinion] in if you have a strong feeling for and against, either way,” Goldensohn said. 

 

Steve Bohnel can be reached at steve.bohnel@bethesdamagazine.com